Wall Brings Chance For Healing To Payson


The Vietnam War Memorial Moving Wall makes a four-day stop in Payson -- the only place in Arizona the exhibit will be available to the public -- from May 4 through 8.

This moving wall is one of three half-scale replicas that travel throughout the country. As of Jan. 1, 1999, the wall lists the names of the 58,213 United States military men and women who died in the Vietnam War, between 1957 and 1975.

A sophisticated database of names and their precise arrangement on the walls had to be created in order to engrave the panels. The database was then linked to a giant computer-operated laser system developed solely for the purpose of engraving the traveling Wall.

The system etched image areas of a specific size, requiring remarkably precise calibration across a wide field in order to match partially formed letters and lines.

Known as The Wall That Heals, it is a half-scale replica -- exact to the letter and inch -- of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It travels across America to cities and towns great and small, speaking, not only of the loss, but of the lives of men and women -- parents, children, neighbors, and friends. Also, the Traveling Wall now includes a Traveling Museum.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has helped veterans from World War I to Desert Storm find healing and a powerful connection with the common military experience. Non-veterans, from school children to parents and grandparents, find in the Wall a deeper appreciation of their sacrifice, service, and courage, and draw from the experience lessons for todays life and life in the future.

Visitors to the Memorial touch the Wall and touch each others lives in innumerable ways.

The list of names begins at the vertex of the walls below the year of the first casualty, and continues to the end of the east wall. It resumes at the tip of the west wall, ending at the vertex, above the year of the last death. With the meeting of the beginning and ending, a major epoch in American history is signified.

Each of the walls is composed of 70 separate inscribed panels. The largest panels have 137 lines of names; the shortest have one line. There are an average of five names per line.

Each panel is numbered from "1" to "70" at the base of each panel, with West Panel 1 and East Panel 1 meeting at the vertex, leading out to East or West Panel 70.

The names of the first casualties appear on the top of East Panel 1 below the date "1959". The chronological listing by casualty date of the names proceeds left to right, line by line, down each panel, and then to the top line of the panel to its right, as though the panels were pages in a book, until East Panel 70, whereupon the sequence of names begins on West Panel 70, proceeding to West Panel 1 at the vertex. The last casualties are listed on the bottom line of West Panel 1 above the date "1975".

Each name is preceded (on the west wall) or followed (on the east wall) by a symbol designating status. The diamond symbol denotes that the serviceman's or servicewomen's death was confirmed.

The 1,300 men whose names are designated by the cross symbol were in missing or prisoner status at the end of the war and remain missing and unaccounted for.

In the event a serviceman's remains are returned or he is otherwise accounted for, the diamond symbol is superimposed over the cross. If a man returns alive, a circle, as a symbol of life, will be inscribed around the cross.

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